Airdchartdan. Urquhart. To my surprise, the castle isn’t named for a family, but for its location. There are a few suggestions as to the meaning of the ancient name, but mostly I’m finding that the old Gaelic/Welsh refers to a promontory with a woodsy thicket. A few sources translate it as "upon a thicket".
Even more surprising to me was how accessible it is from the road. From my research, its image was seared into my memory, ancient and mysterious,. Then there we were, driving along Loch Ness, and suddenly it was right there, clearly in view. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was amazed and thrilled and could hardly wait to visit.
It seemed like a dream.
In view of my research on the Picts, I find it interesting that the earliest mention of the site was in a biography about Saint Columba. In the 600s, a little over a century after the fact, the saint’s biographer Adonmán wrote that Saint Columba visited Airdchartdan, where he baptized Emchath, a pictish noble on his deathbed, along with the entire household.
Adonmán also recorded the first written mention of the Loch Ness monster. Legend has it that while in the area, Saint Columba scared him away and, in doing so, converted still more Picts.
Loch Ness was calm the day we visited. Sun and drizzle danced a bit, but neither a monster nor tremor disturbed the day.
There is some debate as to how old the ruins are, but some portion of it was certainly there in the late 1200s, when Edward I of England invaded Scotland.
From that time, the castle was more or less fought over continuously. Its history is tumultuous to the point that finally, in 1692, it was blown up, never to be resurrected.
With such a history, one might expect a lingering air of melancholy. At least, I would. But that day, I found that it wasn’t the case. I did mention it on social media, but it’s worth repeating. To me, Urquhart Castle and its grounds felt peaceful, stoic, and proud.
Beautiful ruins, indeed.
For more wonderful Medieval Monday, be sure to visit authors Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis.
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!
It's no secret that I prefer fat HEAs. Where better than in a beautiful romance?
From me to you with a smile.
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